Belmont Peanuts expanding

Published 12:13 pm Saturday, September 29, 2018

Belmont Peanuts is growing in a jumbo way by creating a new $2.5M facility and warehouse to process and store its renown products.

The announcement was made on Thursday afternoon on the lawn of the home of Robert and Patsy Marks, who began the business in 1993. The couple was accompanied at the ceremony by their children, Megan Harrell, Kelly Marks and Robert Marks.

The production plant will both increase production and improve efficiency in operations. The warehouse, greatly needed, will be for the peanuts before and after processing. In addition to a retail space to sell Belmont Peanuts products, a small kitchen is going to be built for food preparation. Where space will later become available in the current facility, an in-house chocolate enrobing line will be installed.

Over the next three years, 10 new jobs and five full-time equivalent positions will be established. Also in that time, the upgrades are estimated at increasing the volume of purchased peanuts by 30 percent, and over $126,658 in new purchases.

To help the Marks achieve this expansion, the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund presented a $30,000 facility grant was presented. Southampton County will match this local money, making it the first AFID grant to the area.

Speaking on behalf of Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina K. Ring was Stephanie R. Agee, director of marketing and development for the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

As was noted, “Agriculture is the Commonwealth’s oldest and largest private industry, so Virginia’s first economy remains a critical component of the Virginia economy. Agriculture has an economic impact of $70 billion annually and provides more than 334,000 jobs in the state.

“In 2017, over 200 Virginia farmers grew 26,000 acres of peanuts with a farm value of $28 million.

Since the inception of the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund, 72 Facility Grants have been awarded totaling $6,114,200. The projects represent the creation of 2,2,50 new jobs, $472,919,287 in new capital investment and $585,627,243 in new Virginia-grown purchases.”

Speaking on behalf of the family, company president Patsy Marks said, “Belmont Peanuts of Southampton is proud to relocate and expand our manufacturing facility, remaining in the great agricultural community of Southampton County.”

She added that the business began in the basement of the house (circa 1790) with a 500-name mailing list. That grew to two expansion phases and 24 dedicated employees. Marks saluted David Peck as well as five other employees present: Daryl, Donna, Steven, Vicky and Abbie.

“We believe that the relocation and expansion will allow our company the opportunity for future growth, as well as provide us with a distinct visual and logistical advantage,” she continued. “We are proud to work together with our local officials, investing in our community and in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Amanda Jarratt, with Franklin Southampton Economic Development, has been instrumental in handling many of our details. Her professional assistance has been invaluable.”

Dallas Jones, chairman of the Southampton County Board of Supervisors, said he “felt like a little boy” for the occasion. I’m always happy when we’ve got something new.”

Del. Emily Brewer (R-64) said to the family, “How excited you should be,” and what an exciting time it also is for Capron. She stressed how important it is to keep in mind the role that agriculture means for people.

“I wish Belmont Peanuts and the Marks family continued success in the many years to come,” she added.

Joining in those good wishes was Brian Hedgepeth, chairman of the FSEDI.

“It’s yet another pivotal day,” he said. “We are thrilled for the Marks family and for the future of Belmont Peanuts. Agriculture and food processing are significant contributors to the Franklin Southampton economy. It has been great to watch the growth and expansion of Belmont Peanuts over the years, and we look forward to supporting them in all of their future endeavors.”

He also acknowledged Jarratt’s hard work for making all this possible.

Ring later said, “What I love about the project is that Southampton County worked so closely with the family. Peanuts are truly Virginian”